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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Preface

Vll

In one of the notes he says :

" A man may make, as it were, cash entries of Mmself in a
day-book, but the entries in the ledger and the balancing of the
accounts should be done by others"                             ';.

When I began to write the Memoir of Butler on'which I
am still engaged, I marked all the more autobiographical notes
and had them copied ; again I was struck by the interest, the
variety, and the confusion of those I left untouched. It seemed to
me that any one who undertook to become Butler's accountant
and to post his entries upon himself woiild have to settle first
how many and what accounts to open in the ledger, and this could
not be done until it had been settled which items were to be selected
for posting. It was the difficulty of those who dare not go into the
water until after they have learnt to swim. I doubt whether I
should ever have made the plunge if it had not been for the in-
terest which Mr. Desmond MacCarthy took in Butler and his
writings. He had occasionally browsed on my copy of the books,
and when he became editor of a review, the New Quarterly,
he asked for some of the notes for publication, thus providing a
practical and simple way of entering iipon the business without
any very alarming plunge. I talked his proposal over with
Mr. R. A. Streatfeild, Butler's literary executor, and, having
obtained his approval, set to work. From November 1907 to
May 1910, inclusive, the New Quarterly published six groups
of notes and the long note on " Genius " (pp. 174-8 post}.
The experience gained in selecting, arranging, and editing
these items has been of great use to me and I thank the proprietor
and editor of the New Quarterly for permission to republish
such of the notes as appeared in their review.

In preparing this book I began by going through the notes
again and marking all that seemed to fall within certain groups
roughly indicated by the arrangement in the review. I had
these selected items copied, distributed them among those which
were already in print, shuffled them and turned them over,
meditating on them, familiarising myself with them and tenta-
tively forming new groups. While doing this I was continually
gleaning from the books more notes which I had overlooked,
and making such verbal alterations as seemed necessary to avoid
repetition, to correct obvious errors and-to remove causes of
reasonable offence. The ease with which two or more notes would
condense into one was sometimes surprising, but there were